Canadian Cyclist


July 1/03 1:29 am - Nationals Men's Road Race Story

Posted by Editor on 07/1/03

2003 Canadian Road Nationals - Hamilton, Ontario

This report made possible through the sponsorship of Evolution by Oryx

Men's Road race Story

Nathan O'Neill (Saturn) described it best, when he said: "this course is just like a mongrel dog - it jumps out and bites you. This is by far the hardest Worlds course I've ever ridden - everyone talks about how hard Lugano (Switzerland, 1996) was, but this is much, much harder. Whomever wins here will be a truly worthy world champion"

O'Neill should know - he spent 14 of the 15 laps of the men's race out in front, after covering an early break. Vassili Davidenko (Navigators) spent nearly half the race up front with O'Neill, before dropping back to help his Canadian team mate Mark Walters.

The presence of foreign riders such as O'Neill and Will Frischkorn for Saturn, and Davidenko and Burke Swindlehurst on Navigators was something new for the Nationals. The race was a required test event for the Worlds, and carried a UCI 1.5 ranking. It also provided Canadian pros such as Walters, and Saturn's Eric Wohlberg and Charles Dionne the opportunity to have team mates for a change. Michael Barry provided a first ever pairing of US Postal shorts with Team Ontario jersey, while Svein Tuft traded Prime Alliance clothing for Symmetrics and eventual men's winner Dominique Perras was riding for Quebec rather than his usual

It turned out to make very little difference in the end, with O'Neill opening up a gap of over 9 minutes at one point and soloing in for the race win. Behind, there was a race of attrition going on, with all the top riders - Dionne, Wohlberg, Walters, Barry, Perras, Jean-Francois Laroche (VW-Trek) and Tuft watching each other closely.

The situation one third of the way through the race was: O'Neill and Davidenko at the front, with O'Neill doing all the work. One minute back was a chase group of 3 - Aaron Fillion (Team Ontario), Jean Francois Racine (Quebec) and Darko Ficko (Pavan). Behind them was another chase group of 5 - Alexandre Nadeau (Quebec), Pascal Choquette (Trek VW), A. De Cardenas (Quebec), Stig Somme (Jet Fuel) and Thorben Weiditz (TSB).

Three laps later (lap 9, 8 laps to go) the rapidly shrinking peloton had caught all the chasers, with most of them going right out the back. Cory Lange (Symmetrics) attacked at the top of Queen Street two laps later, taking Frischkorn as a shadow. "I figured that I could get myself into position to catch on to any moves."

On the Queen Street climb with three laps remaining, Perras attacked four times, with a group containing Walters, Dionne, Czeslaw Lukaszewicz (Equipe Quebec) and Joe Giuliano (Atlas-Italpasta) that was just in front of the other chasers at the bottom of the climb. He attacked again, dropping Lukaszewicz and Giuliano, and then again twice more,and eventually shedding all his rivals. "I was hoping that Mark would come with me, but I knew that we could not take Charles up to Will, or it would be all over. I think Mark hesitated a bit, but I knew that I had to go."

He stormed along the top of the course and charging up to Lange and Frischkorn, who had now been dangling out in front of the chase group for a couple of laps. Perras went right by them on the Claremont climb at over 30 kilometres an hour, with only Frischkorn able to latch on. "Dom was stomping when he came by us", commented Lange.

The gap between Perras and his rivals quickly grew to 2 minutes as they all looked at each other. The chasers dropped to four with a series of attacks - Dionne, Wohlberg, Barry and Walters - but the 'problem' was Dionne. "None of us wanted to bring Charles across", explained Walters. "With Frischkorn there, and Charles' sprinting ability it would have been pointless."

The group did start to make time back on the final lap, with the gap dropping to 90 seconds as they started the last climb of Queen Street, but Perras dug deeper and managed to crest the last climb still a minute ahead. Dropping down into the city centre, he rolled across the finish line behind Frischkorn with a broad grin across his face, having secured his spot for the main event in October. Walters outkicked Wohlberg for second in the Canadian title race (fourth overall), followed by Dionne and finally Barry.

"My plan before the start of the race was to be cautious in the first half, and then try to follow some moves in the last three laps. But I knew that I had to drop Charles" said Perras afterwards.  "This is my best result ever; to wear the national jersey and be the Canadian champion while racing in Europe will be incredible."

Race Notes

- Mike Barry praised Perras for his race. "Dom rode a very smart race. This is a good circuit for him and he played off the team tactics going on really well. I think he will make an great national champion and represent Canada well in Europe."

- Mark Walters maxed out at 94 kmph during the men's race "but there were other guys who I think must have hit 100."

- Charley Mottet was over from France to represent the UCI and look at the job the organization was doing. Overall, he said "the job is very good, I am pleased. There are a few little details - the (TV camera) motos were too close to the riders, but everything is on track."

- Photos are still being sorted through, and will continue to go up all week. We have close to 1800 images at last count . . .

Hamilton, Nationals


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